Four out of five female law students believe that they will face discrimination on joining the legal profession, according to the results of a survey conducted by the group Young Women Lawyers.
The survey, carried out at last November's Graduate Law Fair, has uncovered widespread fears among female would-be lawyers.
The group questioned 240 delegates at the conference, which is run by The Lawyer. Nearly three quarters thought that they would have to work harder than their male colleagues in order to succeed in their career.
Half believed that unequal pay and sexual harassment were still problems, while 80 per cent believed they would be subjected to chauvinist and sexist behaviour.
Women also thought they would be forced to choose between a family and a career. Seventy per cent of the respondents believed the legal profession was unsympathetic to those with child-care responsibilities.
Jill Brown, chair of Young Women Lawyers, said: "The legal profession is not projecting a positive image to potential recruits. If women law students anticipate discrimination and harassment, they are less likely to pursue a career in the legal profession."
She said one delegate had approached the stand of a major city law firm only to be told that the firm did not specialise in family law.
The survey coincides with the release of a report by marketing consultants, Kim Tasso, on the experiences of women partners.
Kim Tasso questioned 18 partners from a variety of firms and focused on how they advance their careers within their practices.
Although they rated their "marketing and selling skills" as equal to their male colleagues, 60 per cent said it was more difficult for them to market themselves and their firms.
Among the reasons cited was that corporate entertainment was often geared towards men.